Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Busy Happy Times

Here I am, at the tail end of April. This post is just to chat and say hello- I don't have a recipe to share but do have some food related tidbits.

Two mini vacations: We went on two trips, baby in tow. Five plane rides in all, and I was worried that Lila would be stressed out by the traveling. Not so. She made friends with the flight attendants and gave a wide gummy grin to fellow passengers. We were asking for a lot from a 7 month old- dining in busy restaurants, living in unfamiliar hotel rooms, being shuttled about all day without a break, but she was a trouper all the way. The first trip was to Georgia and the foodie highlight was my first taste of cheesy grits (with a dash of hot sauce) at Mama's Boy. Our second trip was to Texas and we enjoyed a very fancy meal at Indika- progressive Indian cuisine.

Moving Soon!! Guess what? We're moving to Georgia, y'all! V has an amazing job opportunity there and I'm thrilled for our family to move so he can take the job. The plan is to move in October, so we have 6 months left to enjoy St. Louis and all our friends here. It will be very very hard to leave...

Breakfast with a blogger:  Here's another really fun thing that happened just this weekend. Shilpa of Aayi's Recipes fame dropped in to visit us, along with her family. It was our second meeting. It was fun to have breakfast together and chat away. Yet another instance of how this food blog has led to a valuable "real life" friendship for me.

You must make this! I haven't been trying many new recipes these days- but this weekend I baked a date cake and I have to tell you about it. When I was growing up, my mother entertained often; one of her favorite party desserts was a slice of homemade date and walnut cake served with thick vanilla custard. I'd forgotten all about this cake until I saw eggless date cake posted on two of my favorite blogs- Aayi's Recipes (there she is again) and Bong Mom's Cookbook. Both posts are worth reading- Shilpa talks about the "cake fever" triggered by this cake, and Bong Mom talks about her disbelief at how a cake without eggs or butter can be so light and airy. Both bloggers got the recipe from friends who seem to have gotten it from the same source.

And yes, this cake/quick bread is wonderful. Full of the sweet (and fiber-rich) goodness of dates, I have been lopping off thick slices to take to work every day this week, to enjoy with my 3 PM cup of tea. I reduced the sugar dramatically and increased the amount of nuts (I used pecans), baking the quick bread in a loaf pan. If you are new to baking, this easy and fool proof cake recipe is perfect for you.



Bake Sale! This Saturday, April 28,  is the 2012 Food Blogger Bake Sale. Bake sales will be happening all over the US so check this list to see if there's one in your area. All proceeds will go towards fighting childhood hunger in the US.

If you are in St. Louis, the bake sale is from 10 AM to 2 PM at the Sappington Farmers' Market. If you regularly drool over bakes goods posted on food blogs, here's your chance to taste them for yourself. Many food bloggers and home bakers will be donating goodies to be sold there.

I am baking my two biggest hits from recent months: samosa puffs and jammy thumbprint cookies. Both recipes have been tasted and given two thumbs up by my friends. Head on over this Saturday to critique them for yourself (and support a good cause at the same time).
Savory Samosa Puffs: Crisp flaky pastry enclosing a tasty vegetable filling
"I can't believe these are vegan" Jammy Thumbprint Cookies

Dale's Tales
It has been so long since Dale made an appearance on these pages. Our sweet dog is getting older. He has mostly good days with long walks in the morning and afternoons spent napping in the sun room.  He occasionally has bad days when his old bones seem to creak more than usual and the walk takes three times as long.

In the past 4 months, V has gone on about 8 work-related trips, 3-4 days at a time. It was difficult for me to walk dog and baby together in winter, so Dale was taken to a dog boarding place (they call it a canine enrichment center- no really, you can't make this stuff up) while V was out of town. He likes it there and they are very good to him- they don't crate him at night because he does not like to be confined, he gets to play outside all day, and they let him nap in the office areas. The staff seems to be very fond of him- most people who meet Dale become very fond of him in a particular "poor Dale, such a sweet guy" kind of way.


For our part, we really try not to change Dale's routine except for when V travels. I remember even the morning Lila was born at 4 AM, V left the hospital at 8 AM and went home for a few hours so Dale could get his morning walk on time. Even with a new baby, Dale got his walks, treats, dinners like clockwork.

Baby Lila loves her Dalu dada. She has started calling out to him ("hai hai hai") and reaches out to touch him. Dalu ignores the poor kid completely. When she starts eating regular meals and dropping food on the floor for him to scavenge, they might become friends.

I'll see you in a few days. It looks like life will only get busier in the next few months but I promise to post whenever I get a chance, and whenever I have some "you must cook/bake this" recipe to share with you.

90 comments:

  1. Travelling with a baby can be quite challenging. Glad to hear that your trips went very well. Blogging definitely has its perks including making complete strangers very good friends in no time.

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    1. Yes, I think lugging the car seat and stroller around is the biggest hassle! But it went much better than I expected.

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  2. Nice to hear about the updates in your life.. Lila took a flight this young?!! wow...

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    1. Oh babies much younger than her fly routinely :)

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  3. Hi Nupur,
    I am an avid reader of your blog and don't miss a single post.. I live in Atl and when I read that you would be shifting to GA it just made me smile :) not that it s going to make any difference to our cyber proximity but I guess its the warmth and comfort of your blog posts and the food that features on it that makes me feel like someone I know is shifting closer..

    Thanks a bunch for inspiring many like me with your insightful and practical approach not only towards cooking but towards a lot of things in life :)

    Looking forward to reading more @ onehotstove
    Warm regards
    Sangeetha

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    1. Hi Sangeetha! You are so so sweet! I'm really glad to be moving to GA and hope that it brings me new adventures and new friends.

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  4. Looks like a busy period ahead! The goodies look delish.

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  5. Nupur inspite of your busy life, you wrote this post which we were looking forward to so much. Good to hear about Lila loving to travel already. Dale looks like he is aging gracefully.

    I met ET, Saee and Harini here in Mumbai and it was the first blogger's meet for me. Imagine how thrilled I was.

    Next time you are in India let's catch up.

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    1. I was so excited to read all about your meet-up. Meeting fellow bloggers is like meeting long lost friends.
      I might be making a trip to India this December and would love to meet up if I do.

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    2. Then I ought to heighten your excitement more....you got mail.

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  6. Glad to see ur post after such a long time,..samosa puffs look yum,,

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  7. Loved Dale's Tales..We have two dogs back home, My Mom never miss their morning walks, even with her knee pain killing these days.You get used to the routine I guess...Oh I so miss them :)
    Good luck for your move..enjoy the new place.Hoping to hear more interesting things about your new town, as we have heard about St.Louis all these years.

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    1. Oh Sumi, that must be so hard for your mother- but yes, it becomes a habit that is hard to break under any circumstances.
      I'll be sure to write about everything fun in our new town too!

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  8. Hi Nupur! Congrats to V on the new position and to all of you for the move! Dale is of course, such a sweet guy :) Will be trying out this eggless cake the next chance we get.

    Cheers!
    Bala.

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    1. Thank you Bala! I think you'll love the date cake.

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  9. Congratulations to V! All the very best !
    I have bookmarked this cake a long time ago, the only hitch I have is, eggless version, I am afraid to tr it, mine do not come out so well. I should give this one a try. Thanks for the reminder.

    Dalu dada! mwah! i am not one tiny bit surprised that he has won over everyone at the Canine enrichment facility, his charm is hard to resist..we have fallen under his spell, just by looking at his pictures!

    Love to Lila! Cuddles and gurgles and hugs!

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    1. Have you tried eggless cakes in the past and they did not work?? This cake has baking soda to provide the lift. Try it and see, I think you will like it.
      Dalu and Lila send you love and hugs :)

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  10. Oh my ... not you, too. Trying to feel :-) for you when I feel ;-( . I'll get there, but it'll be hard ...

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    1. I am feeling such a mixture of :) and :( I can't even tell you! We have to catch up soon!

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  11. Nice post - great to hear about Lila's travels ! She's a sweet kid to take so much in her stride, but the earlier they get used to travel, the better it works out for us too...and great that you got to meet Shilpa ! Date cake is my aunt's specialty, its a favourite at home...All the best with your move !

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    1. Yes, she is a sweet child and it helps that she loves being in new places and meeting new people. Thanks for your wishes!

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  12. I always wanted to make this date cake...looks so light and the best part is its so healthy.

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    1. Yes, it is light yet dense with flavor.

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  13. Lovely to read the update on your life Nupur! Looks like baby Lila is a true globe-trotter :) And hey, all the best for the impending move...

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    1. Thanks a lot! Yes, Lila seems to enjoy traveling more than I do.

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  14. Babies travel better than I think we sometimes give them credit for :-) I was very nervous taking ours when he was 5 months old from Paris to NYC, as he was recovering from a ear infection. I was more nervous than he was uncomfortable...he slept the entire way!!! And since then, I am more "cooler" and I think that made him a great traveler..he's traveled alone since he was 4 and now at 18 is absolutely fearless...I hope Lila grows up to be like that; it's areal blessing if you love traveling and are a foodie. Thanks for all your recipes... and I also follow Aayi's recipes. Now I'll look up Bong Mom's recipes too. Good luck with your move...mine will happen next year when we return to France. Whenever I get homesick for Maharashtrian food, I look up your blog and Aayi's recipes. Cheers! Ujwala Samant

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    1. Hi Ujwala- it is true, babies adjust so well! I haven't taken her on any international flights yet but that may happen too, in a few months. Good luck for your move back to France- must be a fabulous place to live!

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    2. Nupur,
      France is a great compromise between India and the USA. My husband is French, from a small village (that inspired the comics Asterix and Obelix), so the culture shock was minimal. My parents likened the village and people to being in Malvan! LOL I loved having my baby and raising him in France, the people and social systems really like and welcome babies and children. My mother shops in the open markets which are a lot like ones in India, and the produce has her singing their praises as does the dahi. You know how us Indians love our dahi...and Pascal makes her srikhand with a kind of dahi we get there called petit Suisse. Being a fish lover, she loves the freshness of the fish and especially since she finds all the other stuff at the Chinese markets, we are guaranteed fish curry and amsol kadhi and of course, kolmbiche lonche. She converted my inlwas into eating proper rice and basmati instead of Uncle Ben's, spicy scallops, tisrya, and every vegetable in the book. My mother-in-law loves vaangyache bhareet, and wants daal as a soup. She was so kind, she called me to ask what spices I used to make Nevenn's vegetables and added masala to his fish before frying it for him when he would spend holidays with them. The problem now is everyone wants friend prawns with their drinks...maybe mummy was a bit too successful. I bring back thalipeeth mixture for all my sisters in law, they call them les galettes Indienne! Stay in touch who knows our paths may cross, here or in France ;-) Ujwala

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    3. Oh your life in France does sound so so lovely. Thank you for writing this sweet comment about the coming together of two cultures.

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  15. Always good to read Lila news. Lila will be a seasoned traveler soon. The earlier they get used to it the calmer they are I guess. DD2's first word was Hai and everybody around her was Hai for a while.

    Good Luck with the move Nupur. Yes dates have become a sweetener of choice for lot of stuff for me as well.

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    1. Yes Lila's not shy about crowing "hai hai" to get some attention! Thanks- the move is still a few months away but I am already feeling the nervous anticipation.

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  16. Exciting to have a move to look forward to! Sounds like life is keeping you busy, and happy.

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    1. Yes, I'm excited and nervous but very happy!

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  17. my mum made date and nut loaf in tins and I sometimes I wish I had the same tins for the nostalgia but I think it would taste great made this way. Glad to hear all is well

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    1. What sort of tins did she use? Mine is a regular loaf tin. Thanks for stopping by!

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  18. Best. Post. Ever. I mean it. You made me grin ear to ear and brought a tear to my eye (Dalu getting old) all at the same time, Nupur. Lovely to read updates on your life! Congrats to V! Will you please post a family pic? :)

    -Preeti

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    1. Yes, Preeti, seeing Dale makes me tear up sometimes but truly the vet says he is in good shape for his age.

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  19. Congrats on your big move! Traveling with a baby can be pretty challenging, but sounds like Lila did wonderfully. I looked at the Great American Bake Sale list of food bloggers sales' this Saturday, I wish there was one in MA because I definitely would've wanted to go. And thanks for posting pics of your sweet Dale. :)

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    1. Thank you! Yes, Lila did much better than we expected- she's a better traveler than I am ;)

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  20. Three cheers for baby Lila. I haven't yet gathered the courage to travel with baby in tow, while hubby keeps suggesting me so. I think I should too. Thanks for the encouragement!

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    1. Mona, people have told me it is actually easier with a baby because they are content with milk and cuddles, once they become toddlers they get more antsy on planes and car rides. So we should plan more vacations while the babes are small :)

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  21. Hi Nupur, eating the date cake for 3 pm tea caught my eye. Do you have any other such ideas for late afternoon-early evening snacks that one can carry to work?
    Thanks,
    Ruma

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    1. Ruma- I like making cornflakes chivda with lots of raisins and nuts. I also like hummus with tortilla chips or vegetable sticks. A third favorite is store-bought khakra (crisp Gujarati bread) smeared with ghee and peanut chutney.

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  22. You know why you inspire me the most … you never rant and however busy you may be you never give excuses.. lot to learn from you :) Loved your post .. and I was gonna ask you bout Dale and you did mention him here … loads of love to him and obviously to Lila too .. this is just a start she will surely be going places :)

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    1. Kanchan- thank you for saying that. Rants and excuses are both so boring! :) We all know that bloggers have other things going on (career, family, health stuff) and we post when we can. Simple as that.

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  23. Nupur,

    Baby travel can be quite hectic and you did it twice. Kudos to you. It always feels amazing to meet fellow bloggers. Isn't it. I wish I can meet you too, some time in future. :-)

    All the best with your move. I am sure you are gonna love the new place. Georgia is next to Florida. So, your next trip will be Disney Land with Lila if I am not wrong ;-).

    take care and love to Dale,
    Siri

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    1. Oh yes, Siri, I hope to get a chance to meet up with you! I'm trying to see if I can make a trip to India this December. Maybe then? :)
      We'll have to go to Disneyland in a few years if Lila demands it. For now I'm excited to go to the beautiful beaches of Florida.

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  24. Hi Nupur, Waiting for your post. Nice to hear about the move. Wish and hope you get good friends in Georgia -:)

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    1. Thank you! That's my number one wish and hope too- that I find good friends in our new home.

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  25. I so look forward to your posts Nupur...its like getting a call from a good friend. Good to know about Lila's first vacation with her parents. Now that you know she enjoys travelling you can plan more trips! Everytime I see a picture of Dale I feel like giving him a hug...he might not like it though. If he can ignore Lila's 'Hai hai hai' (which must sound incredibly cute!!) then my hug has absolutely no chance!

    I have baked that Date Cake from Aayi's recipe once and whoever tasted it asked for the recipe and baked some...so the cake fever thing is so true! :) Great to know that 2 of my favorite bloggers met. And I loved the idea of pairing a date-walnut cake with vanilla custard. :)

    Good Luck for the move. If I was staying nearby I would definately come and help you pack. Though the most difficult part of moving is not packing, it is saying GoodBye.

    Love,
    Priti - This is the Priti who got to see Lila's pic! :)

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    1. Hi Priti!! Yeah, Dalu is not the cuddly wuddly type but he does enjoy a good scratch behind the ears :)
      So fun to know that you've made the date cake and transmitted cake fever. Yes, it is divine with some custard- give it a try.
      And you are so right, saying goodbye is HARD. But friends can stay in touch for life and come visit us in the new place. So there is that.
      Love to you and have a great weekend.

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  26. Nupur, I follow your blog but don't comment as often as I would like to. I want to tell you that the South is wonderful place and you will have a very nice time in Georgia. I lived in the south for about four years and really enojyed the laid back life, hospitable neighbors, warm and friendly people, mild winters, gorgeous springs and not to mention delicious southern food - collard greens, green tomatoes, fried okra, banana pudding, potato salad, cole slaw and of course sweet tea!! Culture is very intimately tied with food in the South, more than any other place in the US. Just writing this has made me more nostalgic. You and your family are in for a joyous time! Wish you all the best.

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    1. Thank you for this nice comment, Priya. Now I am looking forward to our move more than ever. We had a choice of three places to move to and we chose GA for some of the same reasons you mentioned here- the warm and hospitality and their love for food. Thank you for your wishes!

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  27. Oh, BTW the plan ride is lot easier with babies than with toddlers. So yes, travel as often as you can when Lila is still a baby :-). I went to India twice in a span of 6 months by myself with my toddler when he was 9 months and when he was 14 months old. First time, I had to let him crawl all over the flight and in the second one, had to let him run around.

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    1. That's what several people have mentioned to me :)

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  28. Hello Nupur,
    I have been a reader of your blog for a long time, but never posted anything before. I did want to today, just to congratulate both of you, wish you the very best on your move, and to say a big hello to your Dale. I know it is hard to see your oldest grow old. I have one too myself who has her fair share of aches and pains but always lights up for a walk. I hope he takes the move well too. I am going to try the date cake .. Looks yummy.
    Congrats again and best wishes :)

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    1. Thank you so much for the wishes, Usha. I'm glad to know your elderly pup is also doing well. A walk always brightens up Dalu's day too.

      We are planning ahead and will make the move as easy on Dale as possible. My husband will drive down with him over a two day period, with plenty of stops along the way. I'm hoping it is not too stressful for him.

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  29. As always, great to read your updates Nupur. Good luck with the move.

    Mamatha

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    1. Thanks Mamatha! Always happy to hear from you :)

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  30. Hi Nupur, wow, lots of changes coming in the pipeline! Good luck for the move.. I am sure you will love being in the deep south and expect to see a lot more southern recipes (including the cheesy grits, ofcourse) on OHS. Hope your job is also portable across the move.

    Lila must be a trooper to sustain such a busy week so well.. hugs to her! and the date cake is so drool-worthy.. have it bookmarked now.

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    1. Hi PJ- Yes, I'm sure I will learn some good old Southern cooking along the way. Boiled peanuts! Fried green tomatoes! :)

      My job is not portable but there are some exciting opportunities for me there, so crossing my fingers and hoping it works well for me too.

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  31. Glad you liked the date cake, it is really good and I have tried to do it with other fruits minus dates and it never is same.
    Good luck with the move but you still have the whole summer to enjoy in St.Louis so have fun.

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    1. Yes, dates add such wonderful texture and taste!
      I'm very happy to have this summer in St. Louis to enjoy with the baby, and to move South just when it gets cold here ;)

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  32. Hi nupur, Great to read your latest post as usual. I always come by when I need the motivation to keep my blog going and I swear your blog always delivers and comes to the rescue. I love your daughter's name. It is a terrific combo of the old and the new as well as a little Indian mixed with Western. Great choice!!

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    1. Thank you Anupama! Lila's name was chosen because it was the ONLY name my husband and I both liked :D and I'm glad you think it is a nice one.

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  33. so you came to houston?? you could have let us know :)

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    1. You live in Houston?! Well, next time :)

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  34. It was great meeting you all Nupur. Congrats again to V. Sad that you are moving away from Kansas, but I am sure we can meet again sometime somewhere.
    Btw..which puff pastry sheet do you use? Many of my friends said Trader Joe has a good one, I checked yesterday and they didn't have any. Your chocolate puff was great.

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    1. Shilpa, I like Trader Joe's puff pastry sheets but they are sold only during the holiday season. So I use them during the holidays and at other times I use Pepperidge Farm which can be found in any supermarket.
      The chocolate puff (croissants) was a ready made thing from Trader Joe's: all I did was let them rise overnight and baked them.

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  35. Good luck with the move! Dale's sibling rivalry with Lila is so cute! I'm sure they'll be friends when Lila realizes how well food works as a friendship hand :)

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    1. Yes, food builds friendships from birth until old age ;)

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  36. Oooh, GA! Well that where I grew up and the parental unit still live there! I still haven't gotten back to blogging but maybe I can send you an email with some good restaurants. Good luck with everything Nupur! This is all very exciting :)

    PS: I can let you know when I am visiting my parents, and I can always take Dale out for a walk :D

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    1. Really??? Yes, we HAVE to meet when you visit the parents in GA, would love to have you over. And yes, you can walk Dale any old time :)

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  37. Congrats on the move Nupur. Enjoy St. Louis. So lovely to hear Lil and Dale's tales. I saw updates on Shilpa's FB page and was hoping for a photo or two :)

    I have been thinking about the date cake. Time to try it.

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    1. Thanks Mandira, yes, we're looking forward to enjoying the last few months in St. Louis. The date cake is so worth a try!

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  38. Lila's rivalry with Dale is just so cute! I am glad she was game to all this travelling.

    Congrats on the pending move and V's new job. Wish it was here in California though. You have been such a great inspiration in my starting a blog and I so hope we get to meet sometime too.

    Good luck with everything. Hugs :)

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    1. Thank you Jagruti :) We would have loved to move to CA- it is such a cool state. But I am sure GA will be a wonderful experience too.

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  39. Hi Nupur,

    We have missed you. I was a bit sad to see Dale's picture and see that he is getting old. Everytime, I see my parents after a long time I get that same feeling. :-(

    Congrats to V. Good luck with the move.

    Sara

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    1. I know Sara- I feel sad too when I see that Dale is aging right in front of my eyes. It is hard to see our loved ones growing older and we're going to be there too some day.

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  40. hi Nupur,
    So good to see Date cake recipe...i do a microwave version of this cake. It takes only 10 minutes to put together and my son love it :-) I should try your version soon.
    All the best with your move..I am sure you'll have both good and sad memories of leaving; but it'll all work out good. Glad to hear Dale and Lila tales....very fun.

    cheers
    Mina

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    1. Mina- the microwave version sounds too easy- dangerous for a dessert ;)

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  41. Good luck with all the exciting things in your future, Nupur! I am sure you will enchant Georgia, and what fun it will be to hear little Lila speak with a southern accent!
    It was lovely reading about Dale, and my, how gracefully he has aged! We have a puppy at home now (finally!) and while it's exhausting, I don't think I have laughed as much as I have been doing since he got home!

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    1. Kamini- You brought home a puppy?! Congratulations and tell me more!!! Very happy that you are now owned by a pup.
      Yes, Lila will be a Southern belle. Hmm :)

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  42. The Date cake looks droolicious Nupur! Last year, our cousin made Date Bars and handed me a good stash. Time to grab the Mejdool Dates box from Trader Joe's.
    I am a big fan of Jammy cookies with Oats. They are so filling and very portable. Good luck on your move. My hi-fi to Dale for his spirit.

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    1. Thanks Ashwini! Ooh, date bars sound lovely too. So many possibilities with dates.

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  43. Nupur, I made the date cake last week and it turned out GREAT! Kids polished it off in just a few hrs. Thanks again for the links/recipe!

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  44. Hey Nupur,

    What a wonderful blog you owns. Kudos to you!! I visited this space quite coincidentally and now am a fan :)!! Loved all ur posts specially the Fridge shelve one (rly inspiring) and the dates cake. Gonna try this soon.

    All the best wishes for your move and keep going!!

    Shan

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  45. Hi There, I've followed your blog for some time and have been inspired to make some of your delicious recipes. I was excited to read that you will be moving here to Georgia. I hope you are close to Atlanta...there is so much to see and do in this area. Let me be the first to say, welcume to the south Ma'am.

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Thank you for taking the time to say hello!